Modi, Kejriwal become latest video game characters as developers focus on elections
Politicians are becoming the Super Mario Brothers equivalent for Indian video gamers as 2014 election fever starts to settle over the country.
Software developers have been developing all kinds of new games and apps in recent years as Indians increasingly shift to smartphones of companies such as Samsung, Apple, Micromax and Karbonn. Now politics has crept into the mix.
In ‘Modi Run’, which debuted in July, players help the kurta-clad Narendra Modi — the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate — navigate various obstacles in a run through India’s states to become the country’s premier.
Kumar Mettu, chief executive of U.S.-based app developer Dexati, said the company came out with ‘Modi Run’ because they consider Modi the most popular Indian celebrity for middle-class young people.
“We started the games based on politics as a way to test the market,” Mettu told India Insight in an email message. “We will be launching couple of games based on Indian elections during October.”
“We will be basing games on generic politicians and not on single politician … they are purely entertainment focused, and not in support of any politician,” he added.
In ‘Aam Aadmi Runner’, launched by Greedygame Media this week, players help activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal navigate the streets of New Delhi wielding a broom, the election symbol of his fledgling political party.
The company’s founder said they coordinated with Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party for input, though the game itself is an independent effort.
“We’ve been following Arvind Kejriwal throughout the election campaign they’ve done, right from the Anna Hazare time,” said Arpit Jain of Greedygame Media. “We wanted to do something for them.”
Mobile gaming is the fastest growing gaming segment in India, financial services firm Avendus Capital said in a September report, adding that mobile games and apps are expected to become a 27-billion rupee market by 2016.
Developers of free gaming apps such as ‘Modi Run’ rely on in-app purchases and advertisements to make money. Avendus said free mobile games supported by ads account for over 40 percent of the time spent on apps and around 10 percent of time spent on the mobile web globally.
Mumbai-based game developer Games2win is also planning games on politics and the 2014 elections for platforms such as Android, iOS and the Web, said chief executive Alok Kejriwal. (No relation to Arvind)
“The youth of India today plays games beyond watching TV or reading papers,” Kejriwal said. “India is a political circus and we will entertain.”
(Additional reporting by Devidutta Tripathy, editing by Tony Tharakan and Robert MacMillan; Follow Aditya on Twitter @adityayk, Tony @tonytharakan, Robert @bobbymacreports and Devidutta @dtripathy. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)